xx, 528 pages, 12 unnumbered pages of plates : 25 cm
"In his thousand-day presidency, John F. Kennedy led America through one of its most difficult and potentially explosive eras. With the Cold War at its height and the threat of communist advances in Europe and the Third World, Kennedy had the unenviable task of sustaining political support at home without leading the western world into a nuclear catastrophe." "In Kennedy's Wars, noted historian Lawrence Freedman draws on the best of Cold War scholarship and newly released government documents to illuminate Kennedy's approach to war and his efforts for peace. He recreates insightfully the political and intellectual milieu of the foreign policy establishment during Kennedy's era with vivid profiles of his top advisors - Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, Robert Kennedy - and influential figures such as Dean Acheson and Walt Rostow. Tracing the evolution of traditional liberalism into the Cold War liberalism of Kennedy's cabinet, Freedman evaluates their responses to the tensions in Berlin, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam. He gives each conflict individual attention, showing how foreign policy decisions came to be defined for each new crisis in the light of those that had gone before. Readers will follow Kennedy as he wrestles with a succession of major conflicts - taking advice, weighing the risks of inadvertently escalating the Cold War into outright military confrontation, and exploring diplomatic options. Freedman explains the strategic judgments that served to prevent a major war during Kennedy's presidency."
"Kennedy's Wars offers a dynamic and human portrait of Kennedy under pressure: a political leader shaped by the ideas of his time, conscious of his vulnerability to electoral defeat but also of his nation's vulnerability to nuclear war. Military and Kennedy enthusiasts will find its balanced consideration of the president's foreign policy and provocative "what if" scenarios invaluable keys to understanding his accomplishments, failures, and enduring legacy."--Jacket
Includes bibliographical references (pages 489-505) and index
Liberal anticommunism -- Beyond massive retaliation -- The third world alternative -- Policies and people -- The new strategy -- To Vienna and back -- The Berlin anomaly -- A contest of resolve -- The wall -- Tests and tension -- Flexible response -- Berlin to Cuba -- Removing Castro -- A deniable plan -- An undeniable fiasco -- Still Castro -- Mongoose -- Searching for missiles -- The options debated -- Blockade -- Military steps -- Political steps -- The denouement -- A crisis managed -- Aftermath -- Back to square one -- The Sino-Soviet split -- Toward a test ban -- The test ban treaty -- Measured response -- Counterinsurgency -- Laos -- Commitment without combat -- Deciding not to decide -- The Taylor report -- Decisions -- The influence of Laos -- In the dark -- Coersion and clients -- Diem's assassination -- Kennedy to Johnson